Integrating with your competitors may not sound like the smartest business plan on the planet.

But that’s exactly what enterprise marketing automation company Mindmatrix is doing as it builds links from its system to Hubspot and the-company-formerly-known-as-Eloqua, which is now Oracle Marketing Cloud.

CEO Harbinder Khera, however, has a plan.

Khera started Mindmatrix in 1998, eight years before Marketo — often thought of as the pioneer in marketing automation — was a gleam in CEO Phil Fernandez‘s eye. The company has been bootstrapped since day one and today has more than 800 customers worldwide, mostly large enterprises.

In the madly expanding world of marketing technology, it’s something different — something that doesn’t exactly have a name yet.

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“Most of the marketing automation vendors are at the top of the funnel, like Hubspot, and a lot of guys in the middle of the funnel, like Marketo,” Khera told me this morning, referring to the “funnel” of sales leads that marketing automation tools help manage.

“We do all that, but our focus has been at the bottom of the funnel: How do you enable salespeople after the warm lead has been passed?”

In other words, Mindmatrix offers solutions in marketing automation, sure, across all of SMS, print, email, web, landing pages, and social media.

But it also offers solutions for asset management, such as personalizing brochures for channel partners and hundreds of sales reps and thousands of customers; sales enablement, which gives every salesperson the same information and tools as the marketing department; and channel or franchise enablement.

The problem with the traditional marketing automation system, Khera says, is it doesn’t go far enough.

Part of Mindmatrix' marketing engine

Above: Part of Mindmatrix’ marketing engine

Image Credit: Mindmatrix

Most marketing automation systems feed leads down the funnel but don’t offer the marketing and sales tools salespeople need to maximize the value of those leads and convert them into customers, Khera says. And those tools extend into physical and digital documents, which must retain proper branding but also be flexible enough that the end users — salespeople — can employ them in customizable and innovative ways.

“If you look at pure marketing automation systems, they’re for nurturing leads,” he says.

“But do Oracle’s salespeople have access to that data? Only Oracle has it. In fact, only Oracle’s marketing people have it. How do you give that to a salesperson in Pittsburgh to market that? You can’t!”

There are certainly other systems that pass as much information to salespeople as possible and give salespeople the ability to access the levers of the automation system’s marketing engine. But few vendors, if any, have the holistic focus on sales enablement that Mindmatrix has, without dipping into CRM.

what exactly do you do here“Nobody has really brought in all these four pieces in one box,” Khera says.

“It makes our branding and marketing job a little bit challenging.”

That’s easy to see.

The company brands itself as “Marketing Automation | Channel Marketing Automation” on its website. And Khera freely admits that the company has faced challenges in explaining what it does. But he’s confident it’s the right strategy.

“It’s not just about email and SMS and social,” he says.

“Marketing spends a lot of time doing print … but no one has automated that.”

Which makes it no surprise that Mindmatrix is hitting the non-tech market.

While its holistic focus sounded a lot like Salesforce’s ExactTarget when I was listening to Khera speak, Mindmatrix differs from ExactTarget in that it integrates the non-digital side of marketing within a digital marketing platform.

After the dot-com bust, when the company’s original customers evaporated, Mindmatrix found new customers in the real estate industry, of all places. Those customers were seeking to support multiple offices and hundreds of agents. That started to define Mindmatrix’ enterprise and channel niche and caused it to focus on more than purely digital assets.

CEO Harbinder Khera

Above: CEO Harbinder Khera

Image Credit: LinkedIn

“Our sweet spot is manufacturing that has a lot of channel partners and dealers, or retail with a lot of channel partners, or insurance with a lot of independent reps,” Khera told me.

“But if a small company comes to me and just wants marketing automation, we’re not a good fit. I know they would be under-utilizing our product, and it doesn’t make sense.”

And that answers the natural question as to why a marketing automation system would integrate with Oracle Marketing Cloud and Hubspot, which are also marketing automation systems.

Essentially, Mindmatrix doesn’t view itself as just a marketing automation system, as those systems are traditionally understood. Rather, it’s something quite a bit bigger: certainly lower down the sales funnel, but also comprising a solution that works in complex multi-channel and multi-location enterprises. So integrating with marketing automation systems enables it to address a bigger market while staying focused on its core solution.

All that has helped the company recently land a major enterprise client that has more than 3,000 channel partners and that currently uses Hubspot. Mindmatrix handles the channel marketing management all the way down to the individual sales reps, while Hubspot handles the marketing automation — and both systems share data.

So what category or vertical does it belong to then?

“Sales enablement,” Khera says.

That’s still a fairly nascent category. If you Google it, at least three links on the first page of results are some variant on “what is sales enablement?” The Forrester definition includes that it is the “key linchpin required to help a B2B company bridge the gap between their business strategies and how they execute in the field.” And it’s a space that Eloquo, Oracle, and Salesforce do play in, at least to a degree, as well as companies such as CallidusCloud.

One thing for certain: Marketing technology is expanding to fill more and more niches, and marketing automation is no exception.